January 25, 2009

Dear Family & Friends:

I have invested a lot of time and energy over the last six months thinking about my next adventure.  At first, I was sure my next trip would be ski treks to the North and South Poles, pulling a sled with my food, fuel and provisions.  Completion of these treks, combined with climbing the highest mountain on every continent, is called the “Grand Slam.”  Some day, I hope to complete the Grand Slam.

Everest has pulled me back.  My original plan was to complete a double traverse: ascend on the South side (Nepal), descend on the North side (Tibet), and then ascend on the North side and descend on the South side.  This has never been done. Unfortunately, the Chinese are not issuing traverse permits in 2010.  So, this adventure is out of the question.

My current plan is to complete a double ascent of Mt. Everest, which has also never been done: ascend and descend on the North side in Tibet, travel to Nepal and then ascend and descend on the South side. I will be joined by my good climbing friend from Mexico, 30-year old David Liano.  David is a highly accomplished mountaineer, having climbed the Seven Summits and summitted Mt. Everest twice from the South side. Mingma, who was my Sherpa last year, and is now part of my family, will be my Sherpa again this year on this unguided climb.

I have chosen to climb the North side first for three reasons: (1) if I am able to make only one summit (e.g., because of weather or fatigue), I want it to be on a North side climb since I have already climbed Everest from the South side, (2) generally Everest teams on the North side summit earlier in the season than teams on the South side and (3) I will be able to acclimatize on the North side without having to go through the deadly Khumbu Icefall three times (the North side does not have an icefall).

As I write this, I admit to being a bit unprepared, as I have been busy over the last several months with work and family matters.  Nevertheless, I am confident that I can be ready by early April when I will leave for Kathmandu. “Ready,” of course, means physical, mental and spiritual readiness.  The latter two are in the bag. My hero and Training Partner, Ollie, is taking care of the former.

For those of you who have inquired about Ollie, thank you.  He spent over 7 weeks in two hospitals last year and was eventually discharged with no answers.  He is home now having episodes every few minutes.  This is very stressful to his entire, loving family.  I recently took Ollie for a walk in my neighborhood and brought my video camera so I could film his episodes for the doctors.  When he has an episode, his body goes limp and he sits down. He had an episode on our walk and sat down.  Sensing that this was someone special, a neighborhood feline ran up to be by Ollie’s side.  Take a look at the sweet video.


Please keep Ollie in your prayers.   He means everything to us. His devoted Mom, Amy, keeps everyone updated on her blog: http://www.ohwhatalife.com/  Please feel free to log on now and then and offer words of support and encouragement to the family.  You can also read Amy’s humorous account of how Ollie gave me a black eye in the hospital.

If you are interested in following my 2010 double summit attempt, please register on my website (“eightsummits.com.”) and you will receive e-mail notices when I post expedition reports from the mountain.  I have posted the 2010 “Itinerary,” “Route to the Summit” and “Team Members” on the website.

Oh, in case you are wondering, I turn 68 in March.